At Parenting Power, we believe that the expectations that we set for our kids in the home are the ones that they will take out into the larger communities. Since children learn what they live, our job as parents is to be sure that we are modelling, teaching and living the values that we believe are important.
So what does that look like on a daily basis?
That depends on your family. Let’s say that you want your kids to take responsibility for keeping the community clean and safe. That begins at home. If there is litter, we pick it up. We create expectations for our kids to be involved in taking dishes to the dishwasher, cleaning the table, putting garbage in the garbage can, etc.
Once that becomes the norm, we take it out into the community. Perhaps we are picking up litter on a walk or tidying up the chairs after a school performance. When we model and expect responsibility from our children, they learn what they live.
Connection with community, whether it is family, neighbourhood, school or beyond is really about interdependence—sharing your strengths with those who need them and asking for help when you have an area of weakness. This is how we build relationships. This can be a great discussion topic for a family dinner or a car ride, or the holidays. You might ask, ‘What strengths do we have that we can share with our neighbours, school, or team?’ This is a great way to get kids thinking about how they can contribute to the community. Perhaps you will shovel snow, do some baking, drive someone in the community or take a snack to soccer practice.
Getting kids involved in community is as easy as asking the question.
Image of collecting trash from Shutterstock
Honesty can be tough, but it’s worth it!
We recently had a client contact us with a serious problem. She said, ‘My son won’t let me leave preschool. He can’t stop crying. It’s like he thinks I’ll never come back for him.’
She revealed that, since he would have a fit if he knew she was leaving, she frequently snuck out the back door. He was busy playing with and didn’t realize that she had left until later. ‘It’s way easier to leave if he doesn’t know I’m going.’ she explained.
This parent’s behaviour is telling the child: ‘I may leave you at any moment. You will never know when I am leaving.’ As a direct result, he is terrified to let her out of his sight. At least when he can see her he knows that she is there. He can’t trust her.
Honesty doesn’t often feel like the easy way out. Sometimes our kids don’t like the truth. However, if honesty is an important family value to you, it is critical that you model it so that your kids learn it. Kids learn what they live. If you say that honesty is important, and then sneak out the door or make up lies about why you won’t be attending a party or pretend that your child is younger to save yourself an admission fee, you are teaching your children that honesty is not important.
After some counselling, our client really changed her ways. It wasn’t easy at the start, but has become so much easier over time. She made a plan to never sneak out on her son again. We taught her strategies to teach him to use his courage and get through saying goodbye. She and her son planned a script, called their ‘Goodbye Plan.’ She would say, ‘I’m heading out, I know you can use your courage and have fun with your friends. Let’s do our goodbye hug.’ He would then say, ‘I’ll miss you mom and I can do it.’ Then they would hug and count to five and then give each other a high five. They used the Goodbye Plan regularly and he became more confident that he could trust her.
The great news is that modelling honesty with young children sets up a pattern for honest communication in the future.
Image of tears from Shutterstock